Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Reflections: The power of collaboration

  • Only through cooperation APEC can ensure that no one is left behind.

By Angela Teresa Hernandez Cajo

Peru’s theme for APEC 2024, “Empower. Include. Grow,” encapsulates the essence of our shared mission. It is a call to action, reminding us of the urgent need to create an environment where all people, regardless of sex, origin or circumstances, have the same opportunities to thrive and contribute to the development of our economies.

The center of our discussions at the first Joint Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Women and Ministers Responsible for Trade is the promotion of women’s economic empowerment through their integration in regional and global value chains and trade.

We recognize that women play a crucial role in driving economic growth and development, yet they continue to face barriers that hinder their full participation and representation in leadership and decision-making positions in trade and business.

APEC has been at the forefront of promoting inclusive economic growth, as reflected in the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040, which envisions strong, balanced, secure, sustainable, and inclusive growth as a key economic engine for achieving an open, dynamic, resilient, and peaceful Asia-Pacific community. Initiatives such as the La Serena Action Plan for Women and Inclusive Growth, which promote greater integration and empowerment of women in the Asia-Pacific region, have guided our joint efforts and will continue to catalyze action and collaboration across APEC.

The Women’s Economy Dashboard identified specific challenges women face in participating in the economy: Limited access to financing and credit, lower participation in the formal labor market due to lack of flexibility for caregiving, among others. It is imperative that we continue to work to reduce these gaps and address these challenges, and we are encouraged by the work being done at the domestic level and in regional initiatives.

We are confident that through concerted efforts and collaborative initiatives, we can eliminate these barriers and unlock the full potential of women as drivers of innovation, entrepreneurship, and sustainable development.

The joint meeting last week was a demonstration of powerful collaboration and coordinated work. Through each presentation and every working session, we have reinforced the idea that women’s inclusion in trade is an essential strategy for sustainable economic growth and the resilience of our economies.

We took with us not only the knowledge acquired and the best practices to apply in our respective realities, but also a renewed sense of purpose. We have outlined paths to eliminate barriers that, due to deeply rooted stereotypes and social and cultural patterns, still hinder women’s full participation in trade. We have identified opportunities to improve access to capital, education, financing, technology, and innovation for increasing resilience and competitiveness for women workers and women-led and women-owned businesses from the APEC region, particularly micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. And most importantly, we have recognized the need for policies and practices that not only allow women to enter the field of trade but also support them to thrive and lead in these areas.

The joint meeting has shown that, when we work together, we can overcome historical obstacles and build a more equitable and inclusive future. We must continue to foster partnerships, both within our borders and beyond, to share best practices, knowledge and resources. Only through cooperation we can ensure that no one is left behind on our path towards sustainable development. The 21 economies that make up APEC work together to achieve a common goal: Prosperity and sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

The joint statement represents a milestone in the path of a future where trade is truly inclusive and where women are recognized not only as participants but as leaders and innovators. Let us continue to join efforts and work together to be agents of change and drive economic empowerment and development for women, and thus, for all people living in the economies that make up APEC.

Angela Teresa Hernandez Cajo is Peru’s Minister of Women and Vulnerable Populations and is co-chair of the Joint Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Women and Ministers Responsible for Trade.

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